Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If you see me coming, look across the rich man's field

The other night I had a genuine Ghost World moment. I was on my way home from wherever, probably just driving around. I was listening to "Last Kind Word Blues" by Geeshie Wiley, a woman who is so mysterious no one even really knows the proper spelling of her name. She recorded this song and two others in 1930 and then more or less disappeared. It's a motherfucker of a song--it's dark and beautiful and almost impossibly otherworldly. When you listen to it you might as well be listening to a transmission from another planet. It's a haunting fragment from a place that no longer exists. It's a favorite of mine, and I doubt I will ever get to the bottom of it.

It was a nice warm night, late summer, and I had my windows down. I was sitting there in my car at a red light, across the street from the Circle K, and a blue Mustang convertible pulled up next to me. There were a couple of girls (women?) sitting in the car. I have no idea how old they were, but they were dressed like Leslie Mann in The 40 Year-Old Virgin, like women who were pretending they were still girls. When I sensed the car pulling up, I turned the radio down a bit as an act of, you know, simple human courtesy, which was something apparently lost on these two, as they continued to blast whatever the hell that Eminem/Rihanna song is called. The girl (woman?) sitting on the passenger side apparently noticed what I was listening to, because she asked the driver to turn down their music for a second. “listen to this,” I heard her say, indicating me. Eminem went momentarily quiet as they listened for my radio, paused for a moment, then started laughing.

The light turned green, Eminem roared back to prominence, and the three of us drove on into the night and the rest of our lives.

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